In Defense of Fakes and Artistic Treason: Why Visually-Indistinguishable Duplicates of Paintings Are Just as Good as the Originals

I argue that all that is relevant to appreciating art as art is the “abstract entity that is the work of art.” The object of aesthetic contemplation, the bearer of aesthetic value, just is this abstract entity picked out by the sortal concept ‘work of art,’ which requires some vehicle but does not require the particular vehicle that is the original painting. Since this is so, the work of art is present in a visually-indistinguishable duplicate to the same extent and to the same degree as it is in the original. To hedge my bets a little against those who are not persuaded by this strong claim, I also argue that, assuming there is a genuine value-relevant difference between an original and a duplicate, the duplicate could in principle share in or exceed the value of the original.